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Smooth operator

Vale’s São Luís port in northern Brazil is expanding its capacity with the Pier IV project to meet the growth of iron ore production from the Carajás Mine. When it is finished, Pier IV will have two stations, North and South, equipped with the world’s biggest shiploaders, the model Sandvik PL400, each with a capacity of 20,000 tonnes per hour. Ricardo Fonseca, manager of port operations, Vale, oversees the assembly of the equipment.

What are your main duties as port operations manager?

I work as an operations analyst. I currently receive the parts for the PL400 project. I oversee the assemblies and tests and observe the equipment’s performance until it reaches the desired level. Then we approve the equipment and put it into operation.

About Ricardo Fonseca

Title: Manager of port operations
Company: Vale
Born: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Family: Married, a 10-year-old daughter
Age: 50

What equipment is used to transport the iron ore all the way from the iron mine in Carajás to the ships at the Brazilian coast?

In the Carajás mine the ore is loaded onto railroad cars, so the iron comes by train to São Luís. Here in São Luís, the train delivers the iron ore material to the port through railcar dumpers. Then the iron ore is recovered with reclaimers and transported on Sandvik conveyors to the Sandvik shiploaders, which load the iron ore onto the ships.

How long have you worked with Vale and at São Luís?

I joined Vale 14 years ago when I started at Vale’s Railway division, and have been working at the São Luís Pier IV project for four years.

What is the main challenge in your work?

Of course, to meet the goal of shipping the maximum amount of ore from São Luís each day. But the new Sandvik shiploaders help us achieve that goal.

In your opinion, what is the most impressive part of the Sandvik PL400?

From what we have seen from the new project, the shiploaders are simpler and lighter than those we used to work with. Sandvik shiploaders are easier to operate and simpler in their conception.

About Vale

Vale, a Brazilian multinational mining company, is the world’s largest producer of iron ore, with a system capacity of 423.4 million tonnes per year. It supplies customers all over the world. It currently employs more than 100,000 people globally, including outsourced workers.

The Ponta da Madeira Marine Terminal is the second-largest port in Brazil in terms of cargo loaded. The terminal handles ships with capacity up to 400,000 tonnes. Pier IV, with the fifth and sixth shipping lines completed, will increase Vale’s export capacity from 110 million tonnes a year to 230 million tonnes.